sport

New takes International test

Nigel Twiston-Davies believes The New One is not yet at his physical peak ahead of the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham

The five-year-old was a brilliant winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in the spring and signed off his campaign when narrowly beaten by Zarkandar in the Aintree Hurdle.

He is long odds-on to turn the tables on the same rival this weekend, having annihilated 2012 Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby on his seasonal return at Kempton in October.

While Twiston-Davies has been pleased with his stable star since, he is anticipating further improvement between now and the Champion Hurdle in March.

"All has been fine since Kempton. We've had no problems at all with him," said the Naunton handler.

"I don't think he'll improve for the run at Kempton, as we haven't done a lot with him since, but I'm very pleased with him at home and we're looking forward to running him.

"This isn't the Champion Hurdle, so I expect he will improve again for this run and we'll get this out of the way before we make any other plans.

"There is rain forecast, but that doesn't worry me. As long as it's not firm he's fine."

The trainer's son Sam has been ever-present in the saddle during The New One's 11-race career and feels he has now got to know the youngster inside out.

"You always look into the race, you'd be amazed at the amount of research Nigel and myself do into the other horses," the jockey told At The Races.

"With horses like this you get one chance and we don't want to mess it up, so we'll be very prepared and hopefully it will go smoothly.

"We're trying not to throw everything at the wall in one go, so we can give him a nice season.

"He's the best I've ridden, he does everything so easily at home and even at the races it's amazing how much boot he has, even off a good gallop. He's very impressive.

"The slight chink he has is that he has one burst of speed. At Cheltenham's Trials meeting last year I went for him and he went but then in the last 100 yards he was trying to hang on, so I was angry with myself that we got beat that day.

"I know how to ride him now. I'd be quite confident I know what to do and when to do it."